Perhaps, the biggest “secret” of the Air Force’s KC-X tanker contest is that the KC-X could end up being the only new aerial refueling aircraft that USAF ends up getting, writes Rebecca Grant, president of IRIS Independent Research, in her new white paper, “Nine Secrets of the Tanker War.” The chances of fully replacing the aged tanker fleet via a second and third phase of recapitalization dubbed KC-Y and KC-Z, respectively, “aren’t too good,” given factors like the Air Force’s track record in recent times for restocking its aircraft types in inadequate numbers, she contends. “In that case,” she asserts, “it’s essential to get KC-X right.” Among the other “secrets”: the KC-X program will be good for the US aerospace industry, no matter if Boeing or EADS North America wins; the losing bidder will not go under; and fuel offload matters. Above all, “The time for KC-X is now,” writes Grant, who is also director of AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Airpower Studies and a frequent contributor to Air Force Magazine. (IRIS release)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.